Chapter Nine: In This Hour
The Immortal Queen
“Your Majesty, are you ready to depart?” Janko asked sweetly of the Immortal Queen of Elfyria.
Sookie gave the Cervine an apologetic gesture to wait, and then looked at her eldest child in bemusement, “Leif, hold up the fort. Make sure your brother and sister are all manning their Gates on high alert. In my brief absence, Lord knows who will try to enter the human realm and be a nuisance.”
Her eldest son nodded with a roll of his eyes. “Don’t worry about it. Beck and Rhye are at the two Gates, and Fa, Etra, and Cree are popping from Gate to Gate making sure that the two of them have ample back-up.”
The queen nodded before turning to the beautiful Demon woman who was affectionately rubbing her growing belly. “Mary,” Sookie bowed her head to kiss the growing bulge of her first grandchild, “take care of this one while I’m gone.”
“Yes, Mamma,” Mary smiled sheepishly. Cupping the Demon’s cheek, Sookie gave an affectionate kiss to the younger woman’s crown. “Is everything going to be all right, Mamma?” she whispered worriedly at the continued nervous kisses being planted on her head.
“Yes, this task I’ve been given is just a little worrisome,” Sookie confessed as she pulled away, gave Mary’s belly one last, loving caress, and then took her husband’s hand. “We’re ready, Janko,” Sookie told the Cervine.
Janko nodded, leading the Queen and King of Elfyria to their carriage. Pan and herself loped alongside the vehicle as it bounced toward the deep woods. Dawn was threatening the horizon, and they knew in only a few, brief moments, it would either rise once more with all threats removed, or never alight the trees again.
“Calm, Dear One,” Eric whispered, stroking his wife’s ear, and causing her to tremble. He loved how stimulating her ears aroused his mate so effectively.
“That is not the way to keep me calm,” she choked feverishly.
“No, but it does take your mind off the circumstances,” Eric teased, leaning in to give her cartilage a slow, firm caress of his tongue, making his wife moan. “I miss seeing you this dressed down,” he commented after making his wife pant in need. She was clad in jeans and a simple red t-shirt. She had on a pair of sneakers, and he thought she looked far younger dressed in such attire than her royal gowns or riding clothes.
“Do you think we’ll ever see each other again?” Sookie whispered, making Eric sigh.
“Yes, Dear One,” Eric told her assuredly. “You have overcome so much. You went from a simple barmaid to a Queen of an entire realm. Your magic has made all forms of Supernaturals take a knee in reverence to your power. You have taken bullets, and given birth to immortals! There is nothing you cannot do.”
“Still, I really don’t do the whole murdering people thing very well,” Sookie hissed.
“First, Chronus is not a person. He is a Titan, and hell bent on ending everything. Second, Endymion has already told you that another version of yourself will handle your hesitations,” Eric reminded.
Sookie nodded while the carriage began to slow, and she saw the large door to the Void of Time and Space growing larger and larger. Vilga, the leader of the Cervine, greeted the pair.
“Are we on time?” Sookie asked with hope.
Vilga gave her a small smile, “Yes, Your Majesty. You have arrived on time. Endymion is expecting you.”
Turning to her husband, Sookie waited expectantly for the life-affirming kiss he always offered before a big event. He did not disappoint. Sweeping Sookie into his arms, Eric’s mouth pressed tightly to hers, his tongue caressing against hers, his body pressing intimately to her own….
“I love you, My Sookie,” Eric murmured against her lips. “Go do what it is you do.”
“What is it I do?” Sookie whispered breathlessly, still partially bent backward in his embrace.
“Bring hope to life.”
The Queen of Elfyria smiled at her husband lovingly while she felt his Faith in her blossom inside of her heart. That Faith exploded, lighting her body up from the inside and building starlight behind her eyes.
Energized and confident, Sookie approached the large door of the Void. Raising her hand, her knuckles rapped thrice against the stone surface, and the door split marginally, admitting her entrance.
“Eric chose a good emotion,” Lukas’ voice was relieved.
Sookie smiled at The Voice and nodded, “He really did. When do the other Sookies arrive?”
“Shortly,” Lukas told her. “Your Majesty, this is Oceanus,” He gestured to a black Cervine rather unceremoniously.
“A pleasure to meet you,” Sookie nodded.
Oceanus’ golden eyes cast downward, “To have you here is my gravest moment, Your Majesty. It is evidence of my failure.”
“Never believe that, Oceanus,” Sookie told her soothingly. “We all need help sometimes.”
Lukas cleared his throat, “Oceanus and I cannot go with you to confront Chronus. We must remain here in a last effort to deter him from opening the Door.”
“I understand,” Sookie took a deep, calming breath.
“In a moment, the Door will be struck simultaneously in three dimensions. Opening the Door across multiple dimensions simultaneously is simple enough, but opening it enough to allow something other than magic to pass through is not so simple. You will feel as though you are going to be sucked through the Door. You must brace yourself for that.”
“Yes, Endymion,” Sookie nodded in understanding.
“When the Door opens, there will only be a moment before you are combined into a single form with three other versions of yourself. The Angel has been instructed to perform her task the moment the Door closes behind her. All of you have been instructed to think only of your Bonded as they walk through the Door.”
“Yes, Endymion,” the Queen whispered with a sharp nod.
At that moment, the sound of three knocks echoed thrice through the Void, then were swallowed by its endless depths.
“Concentrate, Sookie,” Endymion said when the Door began to open.
“This is Elfyria?” Sookie whispered, clutching her Bonded’s hand. The sky overhead was gray and threatening with storms. The trees were naked without their leaves, and a distant mountain thundered with volcanic activity.
“It was,” a solemn voice replied, and Sookie looked stunned at two deer-like creatures before her. “We are here to escort you to the Door of Space and Time.”
“What are they?” Sookie whispered to Eric after he lifted her into his arms and flew through the grim woods in the creatures’ wake.
“Cervine, part deer, part humanoid,” Eric replied. “When they fight together, they can ward off hordes of vampires.”
“Jeez, why don’t we just throw them into the Void?” she joked.
“They are not descendants of Chronus,” Eric shrugged.
“Neither am I,” Sookie pointed out.
“Endymion said there was a way for you to survive in the Void. What are you supposed to wish for exactly?” he asked.
“He specifically told me to say, ‘I wish to make me one.’ I’m supposed to say that as soon as the Door closes behind me.”
“One with what?” Eric wondered aloud.
“I don’t know,” Sookie confessed. “Endymion is immune to my telepathy, and he said only descendants of Chronus retain memories from the Void. I guess he’s hoping I don’t have more knowledge than I should.”
Nodding with begrudging understanding, Eric slowed as the Cervine decreased their pace. Ahead of them, he could see the unmistakable entrance to the Void of Time and Space.
“You have arrived on time,” an older-looking Cervine nodded approvingly at the couple. “You will knock on my mark.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Sookie assured, standing before the door. Looking at her Bonded, Sookie gave him a bemused smile, “Tell me how I got wrapped up in all of this again?”
“Adairia vouched for Endymion,” Eric smirked. “Despite her metamorphosis, you still hold your grandmother’s opinion in the highest regard.”
“I guess that’s true,” Sookie mumbled, turning to face the Door. “Still, being told I’m needed to save not just my world, but all worlds, is very daunting. I’m nothing all that special. I feel like I’m just being asked to do this because of my powers.”
Eric nodded, “You are, but that does not make you any less important. Endymion needs your abilities specifically. I am sure there is a reason for that.”
“Knock!” the old Cervine commanded suddenly.
Sookie’s hand raised to the Door as she simultaneously unleashed her angelic wings. As her fist struck the barrier, she felt the Bond explode with Love for her. A smile tugged widely at her lips. Nothing was more important to an Angel of Love than the emotion her Bonded sent her in that moment.
“Come on Garm, Fenrir,” Sookie urged her hounds through the Gate to the land of the Fae. “Eric, this is spooky. Who would have thought there was a portal to a different realm down the hill from where I used to live!?”
Eric chuckled, “I knew of it.”
“Really? You never said anything,” Sookie pointed out.
“It never came up,” Eric replied amusedly, wrapping an arm around his Bonded’s waist as they began walking through the portal between realms. Garm and Fenrir walked on either side of the vampires, making Sookie giggle and think of them as her bodyguards.
As they emerged in Elfyria, Sookie grimaced, “Not really what I thought the world of fairies would look like,” she confessed at the bleak landscapes. “I was thinking purple skies and bright blue foliage, or something….”
Eric laughed while he hoisted Sookie atop Garm before leaping onto Fenrir. The two beasts tore off into the forest, their Masters’ guides to the Door of Time and Space.
“It was once very beautiful,” Eric told her sadly. “Unfortunately, Elfyria was war torn, and its magics became corrupted. When that happens, the Pantheon reabsorbs all magic and life from the realm until all that remains are the Cervine and the Door of Time and Space.”
“So they sterilize the realm?” Sookie gaped.
“Pretty much. Elfyria cannot be all good, nor all bad. I have told you that Elfyria is the source of all magic… Magic is neither all good, nor all evil. Therefore, Elfyria cannot be all good or all evil. If it is too far swayed from one direction or the other, then the Pantheon sterilizes it, and an Elfyria of another dimension supplies its magic to ones in need.”
“You are late!” an old Cervine chastised as the pair arrived at the Door and jumped from the backs of the giant hounds they had ridden. “Quick! To the door!” The creature ushered her. “On my call. Three, two, one, knock!”
As Sookie’s fist quickly raised to strike against the stone door, she felt the unwavering Confidence pour into her through Eric. She smiled back at him as her knuckles rapped thrice against the Door, and pursed her lips in a distant kiss. “See you soon, Darlin’,” she called as the Door began to open.
Sookie stood poised in front of the Door of Time and Space. Eric’s hand was resting on her shoulder, rubbing it back and forth soothingly.
“Sorry I made us get here so early,” Sookie murmured after a moment.
“You are anxious to get in and help our son,” Eric chortled. “I wish I was going with you.”
“I do, too,” Sookie leaned her head against his hand briefly. She could feel the Bond filling with Admiration, and it made her spirit soar. “It’s almost time,” she realized as she understood what he was doing. “Why admiration?” she asked.
“Because for so long in the beginning you sought my approval. You soaked it up like a sponge. Now, standing before you, you are long past someone who needs my nod. You are a woman I have loved and admired for decades. Becoming the woman you are now? Accepting both your light and darkness, your strengths and weaknesses, and being at peace… There is nothing more worth my admiration than you, Sookie.”
“I love you, Darlin’,” Sookie told him, and leaned in for a brief kiss that was interrupted by the old Cervine’s command to knock on the Door.
As the door crept open, Sookie took a deep breath, visualizing Eric as she stepped through the door. With each step, she felt coldness seep into her bones. Her body felt as though it was being consumed by the mists swirling threateningly at her ankles.
With an unworldly tremble, she heard the door shut behind her, and then a very familiar voice shouted out into the din, “I WISH TO BE ONE!”
Suddenly the cold eased away, her body felt hot, and her shoulders ached with a pressure unlike anything she had ever known. Memories flooded her, to the point she thought her head would split, but beneath the memories, Sookie focused on her Bonded’s face. She held onto his admiration, love, faith and confidence. Using his face as her center in this storm, Sookie felt relief as the pressure in her back exploded into an alleviating breeze against her arms.
“I was right, it did work!” she heard her son’s voice, and looked up to see Lukas standing before her.
“You weren’t sure?” Sookie asked in annoyance, looking at her wings that seemed both familiar and foreign while they ghosted around her like ivory specters.
“I was prepared for failure,” Lukas answered. “If the fusion could not happen, or it did not give you the capacity to remain without being erased, we had enough time to separate you four and return you home.”
Sookie frowned, but eventually shrugged and said, “Well, at least there was a failsafe in place.”
Lukas nodded slowly, “I would never risk a single one of your lives. All of you are far too important to lose. Even if this did not work, I would have found a way to contain Chronus eventually. I just don’t know how much ‘eventually’ I have left.”
“Don’t worry, Lukas, we’re here now, and we’re here to do a job. Remember what I always told you?”
Lukas smiled, “It’s important to do your job how it’s s’pose to be done.”
“And you know I take pride in that,” Sookie told him firmly. “I can’t be going home without doing what I came here to do. How would I ever face your father?”
“Well, you wouldn’t necessarily remember you hadn’t completed your mission,” Lukas said thoughtfully. “Remember, those not of Chronus’ bloodline will not retain alterations from the Void.”
“What about me?” Sookie asked. “I mean, the Queen? I am a descendent of Chronus.”
Lukas shook his head, “The Immortal Queen shares my magical line, not the bloodline. That is what made me a little uncertain about this entire venture. It was why I needed a failsafe at all.”
“Right, right. You’re not incest,” Sookie retorted.
Smirking, Lukas beckoned Sookie to him and pointed into the darkness, “Head into the shadows. Chronus will find you when you get to his depth. More than likely he will try to capture you and use you for a bargaining chip. Fight him, defeat him, and then Oceanus will guide you back to the door safely with her Time Key. It will look like a green beacon in the mists. You will not be able to miss it.”
“Lukas, we won’t let you down,” Sookie told him reassuringly. “I’ve never felt so powerful. I feel like I could destroy worlds.”
“That is exactly the power you will need to defeat a Titan,” Lukas smiled at her. “I believe in you, Ma.”
Sookie smiled, and patted her son’s cheek before facing the darkness, her back to the door. She was not sure what she had expected when she had been told she would fuse with three other versions of herself, but it was not this smooth transition she had experienced. Her body felt right. Her strength of an Earth Fairy, her speed of a vampire, her unbreakable body of an Angel all felt natural. Her wings seemed familiar and comforting. The power in her felt reassuring and limitless.
Taking her first step into darkness, Sookie Northman was prepared for the trial ahead.